Wednesday 20 January 2021

Middle East Retail Forum hosts 250 delegates

DUBAI, November 25, 2020

More than 250 delegates participated in the 9th Middle East Retail Forum in Dubai, UAE today (November 25), addressed by 35 speakers sharing their insights on the global economic environment.

The Covid-19 pandemic has fast-tracked and brought the future to present – in terms of digital transformation process that has and is changing the $25 trillion retail sector forever, said experts at the event that took place at the Conrad Dubai Hotel, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic has put the retail industry on steroid and changed it forever.

Justina Eitzinger, Chief Operating Officer of Images Group Middle East, organiser of the Middle East Retail Forum and RetailME Awards, said: “The retail industry is undergoing tremendous transformation and we are pleased to address this at the 9th Middle East Retail Forum, the only such industry conference in the Middle East!

“This year MRF is all about agility, responsiveness and being future-fit – themes that we thought could instigate some thought-provoking conversations led by the movers and shakers of the industry. Since notions like omnichannel, hybrid, and phygital are the new norms – we have incorporated the same principle with our event this year. Today you will see a few speakers join us virtually, from not only the region but also beyond.”

Data is the new oil or the new soil. Data is perhaps the most important resource today, speakers stressed at the conference.

“In all GCC economies, e-commerce originally was expected to witness growth in excess of 50% from 2019 to 2030, as a result of which e-commerce that accounted for 0.4% of GCC GDP in 2018 was set to increase well over 2 percent of GDP by 2030, according to a report by Frost and Sullivan,” Justina Eitzinger underlined.

“This year we saw that number go further up, with 49 percent of UAE consumers surveyed by Dubai Economy and Visa - revealing that they have been shopping online more because of the pandemic.

“So does that mean that the GCC’s retail sector, which is expected to grow to $554.13 billion by 2030, is going to solely be dependent on e-commerce operations? The answer to that is, of course not. But equations between physical and digital retail are going to change and so are the functions and functionalities of the actual and virtual spaces. With the ongoing internal debate of ‘convenience versus experience’ consumers have today, retailers have had to modify their offerings.”

Covid-19 is accelerating the digital transformation of the Middle East’s retail sector as e-commerce sales set to jump to $48.6 billion in 2022, up from $26.9 billion in 2018, according to recent research.

Running concurrently at the same venue, the 10th RetailME Awards honoured the region's best performing retailers across 21 categories. These are some of the first such physical events taking place in the UAE after the Covid-19 pandemic stopped events since March this year.

Aptly titled The Masterplan of Retail Transformation, the Middle East Retail Forum hosted more than 250 delegates – restricted to 40 percent of the ballroom capacity – to ensure social distancing. This will be the first such event to take place maintaining social distance protocol and all health and safety regulations stipulated by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) – and reflect the organiser’s strong determination to defy the odds. This also reflects the resilience of the region’s retail sector that has been dominating the economic landscape of the Middle East.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the retail sector and transformed consumers as it is rapidly changing the $25 trillion global retail landscape, so much so that the global eCommerce sales are set to grow from $4.13 trillion in 2020 to $4.8 trillion in 2021. - TradeArabia News Service



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